Review: Ominous – Kate Brian

Read: 19
To Go: 81

Book List
11. The Conversations – Michael Ondaatje
12. The Birth House – Ami McKay
13. Essex County – Jeff Lemire
14. Mary-Anne Saves The Day – Ann M. Martin
15. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp – R.L. Stine
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
17. The High Road  Terry Fallis
18. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You – Peter Cameron
19. Ominous Kate Brian

Wow, it’s crazy what you can get done when you’re not burdened with essays and other cumbersome tasks; I was able to read two full books today. (Okay, well, I’d started them both beforehand, but who’s actually keeping track?) At any rate, after finishing Someday I started reading Ominous, the 13th book in Kate Brian’s Private series. I’ve actually been reading the series for over four years, so when I started it was risque, but now it’s just a little youngish for my tastes (coming from the girl reading the Babysitter’s Club this semester).

Ominous follows Reed Brennan as she comes to grips with the knowledge that she and her best friend, Noelle Lange, are actually sisters – and have the potential to become witches, thanks to The Book of Spells, a (you guessed it) spell book they discovered at the end of the previous book (Vanished). As Reed, a somewhat skeptical Noelle, and the other Billings girls start to investigate the history of The Book of Spells, dating back to the very first Billings Literary Society, girls start to go missing one by one, and Reed must figure out who has taken them – and why.

Okay, so it’s a bit soap opera-like in nature. I’ve long since come to terms with the unavailability of the storyline.

For a frivolous read, Ominous is great – and it would definitely be a hit with girls in that young adult demographic, especially for ones who have been following Reed’s adventures like I have. Even now I can still understand the spark that pulled me to the series over four years ago. There’s always a hitch, though.

While Kate Brian does a good job at concealing the whodunnit at the end of every book – including this one – it’s a shame that her main character doesn’t seem to be getting any smarter. Time and time again, Reed is never able to pinpoint the culprit, even though she’s been the target of some elaborate scheme in each and every book. It’s almost similar to Dora The Explorer, when Swiper is right behind Dora and you’re shouting at the television, “Come on, Dora, you idiot, just turn around!” and she’s just smiling stupidly at the viewers. It’s hard not to get frustrated with Reed when she continually pinpoints unrealistic antagonists (close friends), or impossible ones (i.e. dead girls or girls who are locked up in jail or psychiatric wards) while not considering people who, in retrospect, are the perfect suspect.

And, because it’s a YA book, Ominous does explore romance a little bit. While I love  seeing Reed’s relationship with her boyfriend Josh stay strong during this book (I’ve been rooting for them since ’06), their interactions are a little too formulaic, a little cheesy. Instead of loving their back-and-forth I found myself thinking, “Okay, cheeseball, can you try for some realism instead of reaching for a cliched line out of every other romance novel in the history of fiction?” Though this is romantic fodder for teen girls, it’s hardly original and that’s a little frustrating.

Despite all that, I did enjoy the book. It was, as I said, good for a frivolous read – quick and fun, with little substance. I’d recommend it, but to a slightly younger audience.

Next book: Palestine – Joe Sacco

– Kelsey

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